A Rose Like No Other

Rose is a classical flower in perfumery, along with carnation, jasmine and violet. Yet, it need not be interpreted in a classical manner. It can be made either daring or innocent, dark or pale, smoky or soft. I like roses in all of their guises, but some of my favorites are roses with a twist. My FT column, Unusual Roses, was originally prepared for Valetine’s Day, but since I wear these roses all year round, I’d like to take them further into spring.

When the Spanish actress Rossy de Palma decided to create a fragrance, she selected rose as her main theme. While the choice of such a classical flower from the star of Pedro Almodóvar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown might have struck some as surprising, the perfumers Antoine Lie and Antoine Maisondieu weren’t taken aback. They were the co-authors of de Palma’s scent, and when it was released as Eau de Protection (£82 for 50ml EDP) by the niche perfume house Etat Libre d’Orange, the result was anything but staid. As the perfumers knew, rose had many faces, and it could be made as smouldering or as innocent as an artist’s skill allowed.  To read more, please click here.

What are your favorite unusual roses?

Pablo Picasso, 1905, Garçon à la pipe, (Boy with a Pipe), fragment. Private collection



  • Rachel: Eau d’Italie Paestum Rose is my favorite dark rose. March 23, 2018 at 8:28am Reply

  • Severine: Oh yes Almodovar’s heroines are roses of steel. Who can forget Penelope Cruz in Volver, or the tear-jerker Talk to Her, a dew-filled rose at dawn.
    I like melancholic roses like Byredo Rose of No Man’s Land. Where I am from, there is a breed of Persian rose that is so intoxicating it fills the mid-day air, just so as Jasmine sambac does the night. People say Uncle Serge’s Sa Majeste is a true rose. I would say it is very oriental. It smells like a Sufi shrine, not a living rose. In that way it is melancholic and so pure. March 23, 2018 at 9:56am Reply

    • Victoria: Your description of Sa Majeste la Rose is perfect! March 27, 2018 at 6:41am Reply

  • Severine: Oh yes, Almodovar’s heroines are roses of steel. Who can forget Penelope Cruz in Volver, or Talk to Her, a tear-jerker like a dew-filled rose at dawn.
    I like melancholic roses like Byredo’s Rose of No Man’s Land. People say Uncle Serge’s Sa Majeste is a true rose. I think it is very oriental. It reminds me of Sufi shrines in all their melancholy and other-worldliness. I think of Taj Mahal when I smell it. March 23, 2018 at 10:01am Reply

    • Victoria: Talk to Her is a film I’ve seen countless times. March 27, 2018 at 6:41am Reply

      • Robin: The soundtrack is amazing! March 27, 2018 at 4:54pm Reply

  • mj: I’m not particularly fond of rose scents, but thanks to you I discovered Lutens’ La fille de Berlin that I like very much. I don’t know if it could qualify as unusual, though. March 23, 2018 at 10:07am Reply

    • Mayfly: Lovely article Victoria, I’m wearing POAL today, as it was a grey, miserable morning, this fragrance is perfect for this weather.
      I’m enjoying it even more with a cup of tea, and you’re review! March 23, 2018 at 10:12am Reply

      • Victoria: Thank you! Glad to hear a mention of POAL, another excellent perfume. March 27, 2018 at 6:42am Reply

    • Victoria: Another one of my favorites. March 27, 2018 at 6:41am Reply

  • Imogene: Fréderic Malle Une Rose. My holy grail. I love this scent beyond words and am currently saving up for the body butter 🙂 March 23, 2018 at 10:27am Reply

    • Eszter Molnar: This is so stunning. I want to get this very soon. Spectacular stuff. March 23, 2018 at 11:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: Frederic Malle’s body butters smell so true to the scents to which they refer. March 27, 2018 at 6:42am Reply

  • timmrush: Rose de Nuit, one of the Serge Lutens in the bel jar, absolutely. One the opposite end is Savoy Steam for its scrubbed clean eucalyptus rose. March 23, 2018 at 10:27am Reply

  • Dusan: I adore rose in perfume and my favourite roses are Rose d’Homme, Eau de Protection, Rose de Nuit and basically any pairing of rose and dark, smouldering base notes (castoreum, incense, amber) although I quite enjoy lighter, airer roses too, like the sadly discontinued Ecume de Rose. March 23, 2018 at 10:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Ecume de Rose was my favorite from Rosine. Lately, their collection has gotten so bland that it’s hard to be excited about it. March 27, 2018 at 6:43am Reply

  • Kaisa: I love roses and I find Mon Nom est Rouge to be one of the most specials. Also Epic Women is one of my loves…. both created by Cecile Zarokian. March 23, 2018 at 10:41am Reply

    • Victoria: I need to try Mon Nom est Rouge. March 27, 2018 at 6:44am Reply

  • ramin1215: Rose Poivree
    08 Une Rose Chypree
    Rose Flash
    Le Cri de la Lumière
    this painting background = rose flash may be Agony by Egon Schiele 1912 March 23, 2018 at 10:43am Reply

  • Anne Sheffield: Lovely article. As ever your words are on point.
    Rose does not always agree with me, but my all time favourite rose has to be rose 31 by le Labo. It is a little dark, very close to the skin, soft and spicy all in one. I have recently fallen for santal blush by Tom ford. I was told it has rose inside. I can’t quite distinguish the flower but this perfume is fantastic to me and my new favourite. So here s how I like my roses, a little hidden and with cumin I guess. March 23, 2018 at 10:46am Reply

    • maja: How could I forget about Rose 31?! So beautiful! March 24, 2018 at 8:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Hidden roses is a great category in itself! March 27, 2018 at 6:44am Reply

  • sandra: Rose Boheme by Providence Perfume
    La Fille de Berlin
    Galop by Hermes

    Not sure if these are exciting…but they are for me! March 23, 2018 at 12:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: I think that they are exciting. March 27, 2018 at 6:45am Reply

  • Aida: Lovely Victoria, are the two beautiful sounding fragrances you wrote about besides Chanel’s 18, available in the U.S.? 🌸💜🌸 March 23, 2018 at 12:48pm Reply

  • Noemi: Rose is my signature scent! I just purchased the jammy Rose Flash by Andy Tauer (Tauerville), and plan to get La Rose by Mazzolari, which reminds me the potpourri that I had when a child. March 23, 2018 at 12:57pm Reply

    • Edward: Hi Noemi. Is Rose Flash any similar with Rose Jam by Lush? March 25, 2018 at 9:39am Reply

      • Noemi: Hi Edward! I have tried only the body wash and body spray, not the perfume of Rose Jam. Maybe it’s different.
        Both Rose Flash and Rose Jam are edible roses, but the Lush one is more lemony, and Tauer’s is more sugary. They are similar in that both leave a trace of candied roses on the skin. March 25, 2018 at 9:19pm Reply

        • Edward: Thank you for your response, Noemi. March 25, 2018 at 11:42pm Reply

          • Noemi: You’re welcome 🙂 March 26, 2018 at 4:57am Reply

    • Victoria: Sounds wonderful. March 27, 2018 at 6:45am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: I love rose fragrances—they don’t always love me. Those with which I do get along are Frédéric Malle Une Rose and Portrait of a Lady; Dior Colle Noir; and yes, Chanel N° 18. What always works out very well for me are the Serge Lutens scents: Fille de Berlin and Sa Majesté. I’d love to smell his Rose de Nuit.
    As I’ve written before, a lot of rose scents don’t work out for my or perhaps I’m anosmic to parts of those fragrances? Caron Parfum Sacré or Rose Poivrée, Different Company for instance. March 23, 2018 at 1:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: Rose Poivrée smells revolting to me. The rose is there, alright, but other things seem to be more prominent. March 27, 2018 at 6:46am Reply

  • Marianna: Epine de Mortal by LM Parfums. Smolderose by January Scent Project. March 23, 2018 at 3:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for these extra roses. March 27, 2018 at 6:47am Reply

  • Safran: I love all kinds of rose scents and one that I find very special is Elie Saab‘s Essence Nr 1 Rose. It‘s not special in the sense of contrasting ingredients or darkness. And I would even love it more without the vanilla notes. What makes it so special is the sheer quality of the rose notes. It doesn‘t take any turns or twists, it‘s just there in full bloom from beginning to the end. March 23, 2018 at 3:49pm Reply

    • Victoria: That also sounds great. March 27, 2018 at 6:47am Reply

  • Earl Gray: Eau de Protection was my first dark rose and it’s still very beloved. In fact I need another bottle! It’s perfect for spring if you’re abit of a goth like me, though it offers a powerful rose emitting shield suitable for any day of the year, if you’re prone to being influenced by perfume names (like me).

    Smolderose by January Scent Project is fantastic and certainly lives up to its name, though there’s more to it than just rose and smoke. Very tenacious too, with lovely sillage.

    And by coincidence, these are two increasingly rare examples of accessibly priced niche perfume. March 23, 2018 at 5:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: Good to know! I haven’t tried it yet. March 27, 2018 at 6:47am Reply

  • Mariann: The only roses ive liked so far are Parfum Sacre (love), Saffron Troublant, Lyric and Rose de Nuit. I dont seem to enjoy the soliflore ones, Une Rose, for example is not for me. March 23, 2018 at 6:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also prefer roses well-blended, rather than soliflorals. March 27, 2018 at 6:48am Reply

  • Jacquie: I’m looking for a dark incense rose like Calligraphy 🌹 which is my huge love but it’s discontinued and hard to source here is Australia.
    I got gifted a used bottle by a big hearted Fragrantica member and I am so in love with it. Can anyone recommend me something similar?
    Thank you March 23, 2018 at 7:42pm Reply

    • Eszter Molnar: Hello fellow Aussie – I haven’t smelled Calligraphy, but you might like Tiziana Terenzi Gold Rose Oudh as I mentioned below. It can be bought from feelingsexy.com.au

      Or try the Tauers, or FM Une Rose or Portrait of a Lady. Hope that helps! March 24, 2018 at 12:00am Reply

      • Jacquie: Thank you March 24, 2018 at 12:13am Reply

    • OnWingsofSaffron: I just bought a bottle of Calligraphy Saffron (on Ebay Germany) — came in yesterday and I’ve still to smell it properly. Good to know that you like the Calligraphy Rose. I might go for it too if I find a good offer. March 24, 2018 at 3:43am Reply

      • Jacquie: OOh, I just bought Calligraphy Saffron this morning, untested and get to get here for another week or so.
        I couldn’t find Calligraphy Rose, so got this instead.
        What do you think of it?
        Some like it more than CR but CR has that dark dusky rose to it that I love, to me it’s such a Deja Vu perfume. Though I never been, never think and don’t want to due to some unknown resistance, the first spray of CR immediately transported back to a Turkish bazaar…I wrote a review of this in Fragrantica.
        There are other 🌹 perfumes I have but it’s not it. It’s the whole scent of dusk, dust, sweat, exotic spices, sweets and roses March 24, 2018 at 4:19am Reply

        • OnWingsofSaffron: As I said I still have to smell it properly. I only squirted a tiny bit on my wrist and so can’t really say. On first smell I was slightly underwhelmed and it wasn’t love at first sniff. What I did notice was the saffron, hours on!, and rather in its pure, medicinal state not sweetened which I did rather like. March 24, 2018 at 4:26am Reply

          • Jacquie: I watched on YouTube the guy says 2 of saffron, 1 of Rose was perfect March 24, 2018 at 4:49am Reply

    • Tati: Hi Jacquie, Sorry for the late reply but I also love, love, love Calligraphy Rose. I stocked up on a few bottles and will be sad to see them go. Comps, except in price, that you might try: Killian’s Rose Oud , Ex Idolo 33 (although hard to find and $) and Rose Anonyme by Atelier. March 26, 2018 at 5:41pm Reply

      • Jacquie: 😢
        Why did they discontinue this?
        😭 March 26, 2018 at 7:27pm Reply

        • Tati: I think I read on Fragrantica that it was done by Aramis for the Middle Eastern market. I’m guessing distribution issues. Anyway, another interesting one is Beyond Rose by Clinique. Can be had for a very good price. March 26, 2018 at 7:36pm Reply

          • Jacquie: Thank you, I will check out immediately. I was also advised to try Tauer Rose Flash but the price was a bit scary for 30ml for me March 26, 2018 at 8:11pm Reply

            • Tati: I have Rose Flash. It’s more a sweet, jammy rose. No oud. Another that comes to mind — see how far down the rabbit hole I am — is Midnight Oud by Juliette Has A Gun. Surprisingly good and not at a bad price point. March 26, 2018 at 8:29pm Reply

              • Jacquie: Thank you, if you do any reviews on Calligraphy Rose on Fragrantic, could you please msg me there? I just did a review under this name too. I will check out all your suggestions. March 26, 2018 at 10:39pm Reply

              • Jacquie: I’m right in the rabbit hole, I am so in love with Calligraphy 🌹 March 27, 2018 at 3:24am Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried it recently, and I don’t remember it well. A dark incense rose that comes to mind is Paestum Rose by Eau d’Italie. March 27, 2018 at 6:48am Reply

      • Jacquie: Thank you March 27, 2018 at 7:31pm Reply

    • Robin: Coach Rose d’Or is similar. March 27, 2018 at 4:56pm Reply

  • Sarah: I love Hermes Galop, Parfait des Rôses by Lancôme and Yardley English Rose.
    Another Hermès is Rose Amazone, which I adore but my husband can’t handle! March 23, 2018 at 10:23pm Reply

    • maja: Galop is such a beauty. March 24, 2018 at 8:11am Reply

    • Victoria: I love Galop!

      Sarah, please don’t put anything into the website field when you comment, unless you want to link a specific website. Otherwise, the broken link you seem to have automatically transfers the comment to my spam folder. The website field is optional, so you can leave it blank. March 27, 2018 at 6:50am Reply

  • Tara C: I love Tauer Rose Vermeille, SL Rose de Nuit, Papillon Perfumery Tobacco Rose and Tauer PHI Rose de Kandahar best. March 23, 2018 at 11:31pm Reply

    • Ninon: I also love Une Rose de Kandahar March 25, 2018 at 7:51pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, such great roses! March 27, 2018 at 6:50am Reply

  • Eszter Molnar: I am a new rose lover and I have Eau de Protection – its just fantastic.

    Another fave which hasn’t been mentioned is Tiziana Terenzi Gold Rose Oudh. I wore this yesterday and had MANY comments – from workmates and even a random stranger in the street. Its very strong. Big loud rich heady rose in the Arabian style.

    I also love Tauer’s Incense Rose, though there is something wrong with me as I don’t own a single full bottle of his. And he does so many roses! And Au Cour Du Desert is just out of this world (which is not rose obv.). I plan to remedy this asap as long as I can convince myself to hold off on buying cheaper fixes and save for the cream of the crop. March 23, 2018 at 11:58pm Reply

    • Jacquie: I really must get this Gold Rose Oudh.
      I’m also eager to try Mancera Black Prestigium March 24, 2018 at 4:23am Reply

      • Eszter Molnar: The sheer number of Manceras is overwhelming to me sometimes. They can not be sampled anywhere here in Australia so I risk a blind buy. I have tried Roses Vanille, which is fluffy and sweet and flirty as you expect it to be. And I blind-bought Wild Cherry, which I like very much. March 27, 2018 at 7:18am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Eszter! Great additions. And your description is intriguing. March 27, 2018 at 6:51am Reply

  • Mare: I love perfumes with rose. Some of my favorites are Czech & Speake Dark Rose, Hermes Galop and Marni. March 24, 2018 at 8:06am Reply

    • Victoria: I like those too very much. March 27, 2018 at 6:51am Reply

  • maja: My love for roses is only matched by my love for iris and strangely Rossy de Palma is one of the rare roses I dislike. No 18, however, is probably in my top ten. There is something both uplifting and odd about it and my decant is running so low that I’ll need to invest soon in a full bottle. My favourite dark roses must be Rose de Nuit and Soir de Lune. And POAL. And Rose de Petra. I guess there are too many I love. March 24, 2018 at 8:10am Reply

    • Victoria: No 18 is easily one of the most intriguing fragrances I know, and yet despite its twists and quirky elements, it remains elegant and wearable. An excellent perfume. March 27, 2018 at 6:52am Reply

  • Mihwa: Great article! I love Chanel No.18. March 24, 2018 at 9:28am Reply

  • Alicia: Not dark, but a rose like no other: Guerlain’s Nahema. March 24, 2018 at 12:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: I agree completely.

      Alicia, when you comment, please don’t put anything into the website field, unless you want to link a specific website. Otherwise, if you insert a broken link, my filter will automatically transfer your comment to the spam folder. The website field is optional, so you can leave it blank. Luckily, I was cleaning the spam folder and discovered your comment. March 27, 2018 at 6:54am Reply

  • Aurora: I enjoyed your unusual roses, Victoria. I nominate Calandre for its cool treatment of the queen of flowers, it is a very stylised rose, with a futuristic character, but it also soft, definitely a favorite. March 25, 2018 at 12:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes! It’s a gem, Calandre. March 27, 2018 at 6:59am Reply

  • Neva: I don’t know if it can be considered unusual but except Galop d’Hermes I really enjoy Much Ado about the Duke from Penhaligon’s. It’s a warm spicy rose with some leather and alcohol. March 26, 2018 at 6:30am Reply

  • Robin: Guerlain Nahéma is not your average rose. 😉 March 27, 2018 at 4:58pm Reply

  • Robin: Ah, I see Alicia mentions it above! March 27, 2018 at 4:59pm Reply

  • Notturno7: They aren’t unusual but my favorites roses are Nahema, Rive Gauche, Amouage Gold, La Fille, and Galop.
    I love reading other comments and I think I should give Rose de Nuit another try.
    Isn’t it funny how sometimes we can try something and it will leave us cold and then on second try we might be totally into it!
    It is not a rose fragrance but it happened to me recently with Parfum de Therese. After giving it a second try, I became obsessed and had to get a big bottle. I’m wearing it a lot these days and it is love for real. March 29, 2018 at 5:18am Reply

    • Victoria: They are definitely beautiful. March 30, 2018 at 10:12am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: Sorry, I’m far too late and this post has been closed. However, I do have a question re N° 18 and I don’t think it’s been addressed above.
    I often got mini samples of N° 18 from the Chanel shop and I always liked the fragrance, especially the carroty aspect, sometimes a bit whispy. But those were EdT.
    I now read that the “new” N° 18 (which you reviewed here) is an EdP. Your original review of N° 18 EdT is from 2007. Do you see differences in quality? Has the character changed? March 30, 2018 at 2:41am Reply

    • Victoria: The threads are never closed here, so feel free to comment whenever you want.
      I find that the EDP is warmer and woodier, but it still has the same character as the EDT. Between the two I prefer the EDT, because it’s more delicate, but it might be because I’m more used to it. The EDP has more of a sillage, though. March 30, 2018 at 10:14am Reply

  • Karen: I love cabbage roses!

    By the way, I thought of you as I read the recent New Yorker article, “Fragrant Harvest” (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/03/19/fragrant-harvest aka “How Many Roses Go Into a Bottle of Chanel No. 5?”) which you have probably already seen. There are some glorious photos and I imagine that you will soon be in that part of the world to do your perfume seminar – how lucky! March 31, 2018 at 11:04am Reply

  • Lecia: I love Bulgari’s Rose Essentielle! To my nose, it resembles the hybrid tea roses grown in home gardens. Another perfume lover told me that it smells so wonderful on me that I ought to wear it as my only perfume! Sadly, it has been discontinued, but I have an extra bottle tucked away for the future! March 31, 2018 at 1:39pm Reply

  • Nadja: My faves are “metallic” roses like SL La Fille de Berlin, and rose-pepper-leather blends, like Byredo Rose of No Man’s Land and Kilian’s Dangerously in Love (the latter was ordered blindly by description and notes and turned out right on spot!)

    Rose Barbare, Guerlain – a rose dipped in honey, also good, but too feminine to my taste. July 21, 2018 at 6:17pm Reply

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